Ides Of Winter
Minus Ten o
Released: 2013, Indie
Alberta Assault! In early 2014 Calgary, Alberta will be hosting the WACKEN METAL BATTLE. This contest has regional acts perform to audiences and judges who then decide who gets to go further in the contest, with the winner getting a trip to perform at Wacken. This is a good a time as any to do my bi-annual, quick, regional round-up of releases from Alberta Metal bands. Even though not all of these bands may be competing in WMB, I’d like to thank the bands who provided review copies for me for my radio show and Metal-Rules.com. The bands are Armifera, Black Pestilence, Bloated Pig, Enemyus, Exit Strategy, Ides Of Winter, Kataplexis, Misanthropy, Scythia, Throne Of Vengeance, Trollband, Vile Insignia and Villainizer. Please feel free to check out the other reviews in this feature.
At first I wasn’t sure what to think about Ides Of Winter. There is a good amount of local buzz about this Edmonton, Alberta act but frankly I didn’t hear it immediately. It took me several times to really hear what was going on in the debut MINUS TEN o. My initial non-musical impressions were very good. The band has created a nice package with a 12 page booklet with full lyrics, notes and stylized photos of the band. Each member has a stage name each of which is very creative, a far cry better than many thrash bands that just name themselves ‘Grave Desecrator’ or something. The quartet calls themselves ‘The Frost Legion’ (very cool) and the whole theme of the album and band is one of cold and winter naturally. Check out their website for excellent thematic biographies and a better look at the grim and frostbitten band. If you are not familiar with Canadian geography, Edmonton, Alberta is consistently one of the coldest spots on the planet so it is only appropriate that the bands was thawed (somewhat) frozen the frozen wastes of the Canadian North. I’m very pleased that Ides Of Winter are starting their career as a serious, organized and professional act. Packaging and presentation: A+.
We all know that often flash or sizzle can obscure a lack of true talent but fortunately that is not the case on this album. The production and performances are world-class. The eight-song 40 minute album is just enough to leave you wanting more. The vocals of Caeser Tiberius of raw and remind me a bit of Jens Ryden with that cold, screeching delivery. He sings lyrics with tales of cold and dark themes, legendary times, ancient civilizations and abandoned planets. MINUS TEN o is an excellent amalgamation of death, thrash and maybe even hints of Black Metal. The pace of the album is pretty fast but there are some slower cuts such as ‘In Absentia’ sequenced halfway through to break up the album nicely. The songs are in the four to five-minute range and perhaps one of my initial hesitations are a lack of big hooks and dynamics. But of course it is not that type of band or music. There are plenty of good riffs and there is a monochromatic intensity. That’s not a bad thing, perhaps I was listening too much Power Metal lately with huge soaring, sing-along choruses, epic ballads and spoken interludes like on the new Scythia album. It took me a few listens to appreciate some of subtleties in MINUS TEN o that seems to blur by the first couple of times like a raging ice-storm.
Speaking of Scythia, Celine Derval, who is really starting to make a name for herself, adds some guest vocals on a couple of cuts. In addition to her duties in Scythia she recently gained the lead vocal role in Omega Crom, former band of Stu Block now, of course in Iced Earth. Western Canada is a fertile ground for talent and Ides Of Winter fit right in with strong individual performances across the board.
As I alluded too in my opening paragraph, this album did not have that immediacy or instant gratification that some albums do. I assure you if you take the time and listen carefully to MINUS TEN o you will be rewarded with a very intense listening experience.